All Woman and Springtime by Brandon Jones initially caught my interest because in an interview, Jones spoke of the Seattle Central Public Library as a character in the book. Since my volunteer efforts this year are focused around that very library system, I found that disclosure tantalizing; and I’m happy I did.
All Woman and Springtime is a fast read but not an easy read. It’s the story of two young North Korean girls who are sold into the sex trade, first in South Korea and then, later in Seattle.
The North Korean portion of the book was fascinating. Jones did extensive research so it also may be close to the mark. It depicts a country much like Mao China during the starvation years only, this story isn’t taking place in the 1950s, it’s taking place now.
When the girls reach South Korea and find themselves deep in the sex trade the book gets uncomfortable. There are some fairly graphic scenes, which I suspect are still probably softened for the reader.
The final location in the book is Seattle and it made me wonder how much in the city I’m oblivious too on a daily basis. Drug trafficking, sex trafficking, women brought into the country illegally in container ships to work in brothels, even just failing to notice a homeless woman with no shoes on the street. It certainly makes me want to be more aware when I walk around downtown (especially in light of the murder sprees in Seattle these past few weeks).
At bottom this story though, isn’t about North Korea, or the sex trade, or what happens when you escape one bad situation for one with no food or shelter. It’s about the strength of the human spirit and how with the help of an amazing public resource like the Seattle Public Library and the compassion of strangers you can lift yourself from the worst circumstances into a better life.
Have you read this book yet? If yes, let me know what resonated with you most in the story.